About a million hernia repairs are performed each year in the United States. Even though they’re not uncommon, hernias can be difficult to detect — unless you know what symptoms to look for.
At Desert West Surgery in Las Vegas, Nevada, our skilled team uses the most advanced methods to diagnose and treat hernias in women and men. Here’s what you should know about hernias, including the most common symptoms and how they’re treated.
Types of hernias
Hernias happen when one of your organs starts to poke or push through a weak spot in the muscle or connective tissue that “holds” them in place. Even though hernias occur similarly, they have different “names” depending on where they form.
The two most common types of hernias are inguinal hernias that form in your inner groin and femoral hernias that develop in your outer groin or thigh. Other types include:
- Incisional hernias that form around a surgical incision
- Ventral hernias that develop in your belly
- Umbilical that develops near the belly button
- Hiatal hernias that form along the stomach and diaphragm
Sometimes, a hernia is present at birth, even though it might not cause symptoms until childhood or adulthood. But many hernias form later, typically due to underlying causes like:
- Being overweight or obese
- Lifting heavy objects
- Repetitive coughing or sneezing
- Diarrhea or constipation
Smoking, poor eating habits, and muscle strain can also increase your risk of developing a hernia.
Symptoms to watch for
A very tiny hernia may not cause any symptoms, or it may cause very mild symptoms that are easy to overlook at first. As the hernia becomes more serious, it can cause symptoms like:
- A bulge in the area of the hernia
- Tenderness or pain
- Pain that gets worse when lifting or exerting yourself
- Dull, persistent aching
- Problems having a bowel movement
Because of where they’re located, hiatal hernias don’t cause outward bulging that you can see. Instead, they’re associated with symptoms like:
- Food regurgitation
- Chest pain
- Swallowing problems
Hernias are diagnosed with a physical exam combined with diagnostic imaging and lab tests.
Treating a hernia
Very small hernias may be treated with lifestyle changes that can help reduce pressure on the area. Your doctor will monitor the hernia frequently for changes in size, but you should also be aware of any additional or worsening symptoms, like pain or bulging in the area.
Without proper medical treatment, a hernia may become strangulated, trapped by the muscle or connective tissue surrounding it. In a strangulated hernia, the part of the organ that’s bulging through can be deprived of blood, resulting in tissue death and very serious and even life-threatening complications.
Hernias won’t heal on their own. Surgery is required to repair hernias, and it’s often the best choice for hernias that:
- Are large
- Are causing painful symptoms
- Are more likely to develop complications
The doctors at Desert West Surgery use both minimally-invasive surgical repair and traditional techniques to repair hernias, depending on your specific needs.
Don’t ignore your symptoms
Hernia symptoms aren’t going to resolve without medical intervention, and ignoring symptoms can wind up making your condition a lot worse. If you’re having hernia symptoms — even mild ones — getting treatment as soon as possible is the best way to avoid serious problems and stay healthy. To learn more about how our team treats hernias in our Las Vegas patients, call the practice or use our online form to request an appointment today.